Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Monday April 27th 2009

Villaggio Marinello, Oliveri/Marinello (ACSI2009-1525) N38.13221 E15.05457

It occurs to me that I have not mentioned the weather for a few days, indeed in my ramblings, I think I have only mentioned the weather when it has been raining. Well, that is more or less it, if I have not mentioned it, it is because it is warm and sunny!, and so it is today.

We program the satnav for our next site in Sicily, and given what we have been told about the state of the roads south of here, and the fact that the motorway is toll free to the Sicily ferry, we elect to take the motorway. We soon find out why it is free, most of it has not yet been built, there are a few kilometres of sweeping viaducts, and long dual carriageway tunnels, but at least 80% of it is a contraflow!

We arrive at the end of the motorway, or should I say contraflow, and make our way to the ferry. It runs regularly every 20 minutes or so, so there is no pre-booking, just turn up buy a ticket (65Euro return, a bit steep), and go. We are first met by a small army of touts trying to sell us advice on which ticket to buy etc etc. We ignore the touts, and Kathleen buys the ticket at the official ticket office. Still a bit worrying, she pays with a credit card, but no pin number is requested and no signature, and no receipt is given, we are entering the land of the mafia, we hope all will be well.

As I said earlier, the day started warm and sunny, well it is still warm, but now it is blowing a gale, we can see across to Sicily, Kathleen decides that the ferries crossing too and fro look very small, and the waves very large!

We join the queue to board, and have our first taste of Sicilian driving. It is the standard ferry queuing system with several lanes and you are allocated a lane depending on your length, height etc. It is clear that everyone in the queue will get onboard, the queue is not long, but an idiot (Sicilian) driver (with mobile phone glued to his ear of course) in a black Mercedes, insists on trying to queue jump and push in between us and the bus we are following. I move over and push force him to move nearer the edge of the quay. Kathleen is not happy about this, after all he may be a godfather, so I relent and allow him.

Despite Kathleen’s misgivings about the small size of the ferry, the strength of the wind and the large size of the waves, we arrive safely in Messina. After more jockeying for position and queue jumping we make our way out of the dock area and into the madness of the Messina traffic.

We join the motorway, at the edge of town, and we are on our way. But not for long, at the next exit we are flagged down by a police patrol and told the motorway is closed to everything except cars due to the strength of the wind (at least we think that is what he said), not to worry (yet), that sat nav quickly recalculates our route excluding the motorway. But now we pass through a series of suburbs and small towns to the west of Messina. The traffic is very busy. On several occasions emergency vehicles (fire engines, ambulances etc) come screaming up behind us, with blue lights flashing and sirens blaring. We dutifully pull over and let them pass. Big mistake, once having pulled over, the other traffic will not let you back in to the flow. We (or I) quickly learn that here, what you do is ignore the sirens and just keep going.

Eventually we come to a section of road which is clearly not finished yet, our satnav clearly thinks it is finished and instructs us straight ahead into an obvious construction site. Avoiding that calamity, we follow a diversion sign, then of course there are no more signs. We come to a very narrow section (2.2m, according to the sign), the van is 2.2m wide. There is no where to turn around and reversing out is impossible, so with sweat on my brow, and Kathleen shouting “you will never get through there” (instead of watching the mirror on her side), I went for it. She was almost right, I got through, but with a black scuff mark down her side of the van.

We arrive at the site. It is not good, it does not appear to be fully open, and heavy rain has been added to the howling gale. The one plus is that it does have wifi. We duly buy an hours worth, but after about 15minutes it packs in, the signal probably cannot make it through the wall of wind blown rain!

The weather plus the incident of my attempting to drive through a 2.2m gap, makes for a suitably fraught evening, least said soonest mended. Welcome to Sicily.

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